Toyota has re-used 208 nickel metal hydride battery packs taken from dealer recycling to provide the off-line power in a solar power system at Yellowstone. Back in 2014 Toyota partnered with Indy Power Systems, Sharp USA SolarWorld, Patriot Solar, National Park Service and Yellowstone Park Foundation. The idea was to power some of the most remote parts of our country’s national parks.
The system used by the Lamar Buffalo Ranch Field Campus has enough energy generation to power six typical U.S. homes. The Camry hybrid batteries provide 85kWh of energy storage so that the field campus can keep the lights and other electrical appliances in operation when the sun goes down. Toyota contributed the battery packs taken from Camrys that had fulfilled their life expectancy in the cars. The batteries are not dead when removed from cars at the end of its operational life. They are still powerful enough for many commercial applications. Toyota used the battery packs and as much other equipment as could be repurposed. Indy Power Systems then added equipment specifically for this application so the packs could be integrated to the solar power system.
The National Park service benefits by getting reliable zero-emission power, but Toyota is also benefitting. The company says this is a first of its kind commercial re-use of hybrid batteries. The company is planning to study closely how the re-used packs perform. The expectation is that the life of the battery pack will be effectively doubled.
Batteries for solar systems is presently big news. Tesla has just released battery back-up systems with 7 kWh and 10 kWh capacity. The Tesla batteries are purpose-built for the application, not recycled.